Kitchen / Garden / Sanctuary - Urban Homesteading to Nourish Body + Spirit

Month: October 2011 (Page 1 of 3)

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween to you!

Here are some pictures from around our place this morning.

It’s going to be a pretty day today, and I think I’ll continue my tradition of taking a night bike ride around the neighborhood to see all the action!

What are your Halloween plans?



Gratitude Sunday * October 30, 2011

Sunday’s a good day to remember what we’ve been grateful for over the past week, don’t you think? I’m joining Taryn over at Wooly Moss Roots in her Gratitude Sunday tradition, and here’s my list:

-Incredible sunny, 80° weather on Monday for harvesting my garden. I loved that day so much.

– Cozy snowfall this week; I love the snow.

– The heating pad.

– Eating a lot of soups this week. They were just the right thing.

– Normal spinal tap! I’m glad. Actually all these normal results are both reassuring (I am very healthy in all other ways! It’s so nice to be reassured of that…), but also frustrating because there are no helpful clues to what is making me so ill. But at least that rules out something icky in my spinal fluid.

– Feeling satisfied that I had my fill of Summer, and am fully ready for Autumn. The colder, shorter days…cozy foods…soups…pumpkin bread…tea…hunkering down and doing quiet indoor things that had been shoved aside all summer. I’m always ready for the next season once it gets here; I feel fortunate for that. I do love all the seasons.

– Making snow ice cream.

– Family.

– Wait, lemme do that one again; FAMILY!!! 

– Going to the last farmer’s market of the year and getting a good deal on winter squash, since mine didn’t turn out this year. Six organic squashes for $10. It works out to 50 cents a pound, which is good considering the grocery store charges several times that much.

– Smelling chiles roasting at the market. One of my favorite smells of all.

– My laptop, newly configured by my sweet and capable Hubby, so that I can be in Linux (my preference) but also running Windows at the same time via a ‘virtual machine.’ It’s a magical thing, to be running two operating systems at the same time, and to be able to cut and paste between them! So I can be doing my moneymaking work in Word/Excel, while simultaneously doing my other stuff in Linux. I love that! He also bought me a “belated Halloween present” of 4GB of RAM (belated because it will arrive in the mail next week)! That’ll really soup up my machine, YAY! Thank you!!!

– Tea. How it warms your hands and your insides, and how you can see it steaming from your mug when you’re outside in the chill of dusk, standing on your porch, smelling woodsmoke and leaves in the air.


What blessings have you appreciated throughout your week? Leave a comment and let us know!


This Week: Harvest Time!

The last of the harvest, not including celery. I'm holding the biggest potato of the year -- 1.2lbs!

It was harvest time this week! Monday was the day; snow was predicted for Wednesday, and Monday was an incredible 80°! How very perfectly the weather worked out this year; usually I’m out there harvesting in the freezing drizzle, my half-frozen fingers moving in slow motion. Not this year! I was prancing around the garden in bare feet and shorts ‘n’ T-shirt, clippers and shovel in hand, the air warm and golden with leaves. It was a true pleasure to be out working in the garden that day.

Here are some pictures from the day:

All in all, it was a below-average garden year. I’ve definitely had much more plentiful harvests in past years, and we missed our usual avalanche of tomatoes, but I felt OK with less because it matched my energy level. I was actually glad to not be overwhelmed with produce; it would have been too much for me this year.

And then on Wednesday, as predicted, we woke up to several inches of snow! How funny, I was cooking quinoa in my solar oven on Monday, and then making snow ice cream on Wednesday!

And tucked in amongst harvest day and our snowstorm, I had a spinal tap. Yuck! It wasn’t exactly awful, but it was a strange experience and I almost passed out a couple times during and after it!

For anyone who has to have one in the future, here’s what I would tell my patient if I were their nurse.

Getting a spinal tap: you could compare it to a blood draw. It’s kind of unpleasant, and it’ll probably be a bit uncomfortable…and it feels weird…but it’ll be over soon enough. It’s important to hold yourself in the right position. The doctor will put you in a fetal position…hold that pose, but remind yourself to relax and breathe.

The doctor will first feel your spine and mark where the needle should go in. Then your lower back will get cleaned three times with iodine. You’ll get two shots of lidocaine — one just under the surface of your skin, the other one further into your back. They don’t hurt much other than the sting of getting a shot. Then the doctor will insert the spinal needle; to me this is the worst part. Try not to picture what’s going on and take your mind to your favorite place if you can. You won’t feel pain, but it’ll be uncomfortable pressure and then a ‘pop’ sensation and a give. You might feel a dull ache down your back at this point. It takes several minutes for the spinal fluid to drip out of the needle into the collection tubes, but the worst part is over. Try to focus your mind on someplace nice, and breathe.

They’ll remove the needle but you probably won’t feel that at all. They’ll put a band-aid on, and probably draw a couple vials of blood from your arm, and have you slowly get up as you feel ready; take your time. It might help to have a water bottle or some juice or a little snack with you.

Have someone drive you home. Plan to take the rest of the day, and the next, to recover; avoid doing anything strenuous. Drink lots of fluids to replace your spinal fluid; they say caffeine helps prevent a possible post-lumbar-puncture headache, but if you don’t like caffeine (I don’t), don’t do it. Just hydrate and hang low.

I felt very fragile after the procedure, and had a substantial backache for the rest of the day. I never got the big headache some people do because of the lowered spinal fluid pressure. I drank lots of liquids and stayed in bed the rest of the day, and the next day too.

And today, Thursday, I’m totally recovered and the spinal tap is a distant memory. Now I want to dig out our DVD of that hilarious mockumentary, This is Spinal Tap, about the fictional rock band!!


Gratitude Sunday * October 23, 2011

Sunday’s a good day to remember what we’ve been grateful for over the past week, don’t you think? I’m joining Taryn over at Wooly Moss Roots in her Gratitude Sunday tradition, and here’s my list:

– The peak of Autumn leaves! Every year I seem to forget just how beautiful it is, and every year I am reminded.

– Banana slices, fried in a teeny amount of coconut oil in my cast iron pan. I love that snack, it’s like dessert!

– A cloudy, chilly October day, perfect for being inside with a cup of tea, working hard on my moneymaking project.

– Cranking out that big, huge, tedious, challenging, nuanced work project. DONE DONE DONE!!! It’s been hanging over me. When I sent it off at 4:09 one afternoon, I leaped out of my chair and ran for my sunny ‘balcony’ clutching a fun magazine!

– That the library had two books I wanted…right there in stock…without me having to put them on hold and wait for them to be delivered to my local branch, and then making a special trip to get them, which is usually what I do. I really appreciated that instant gratification!

– Making my own kombucha instead of buying it. Making my own tortillas instead of buying them. Drying my own herbs instead of buying them. Growing my own tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, celery…instead of buying them. Making our own pickles instead of buying them. It’s not even because of the money; it’s not that at all (though money is saved by doing all these things and more). It’s because making and growing and eating my own stuff scratches a deep and ancient esoteric itch that no other activity can come close to satisfying.

– All the laughter in our household! Hubby and I are always laughing together about something.

– Smelling Autumn in the night air. It reminds me of Halloween nights when Sonja and I would go trick-or-treating together, surprising favorite neighbors with our costumes…crunching through leaves up and down the sidewalks to each house…looking at all the Halloween decorations and carved pumpkins…sorting and snarfing our candy, going for our favorite Three Musketeers bars first; those were such fun and happy nights! And that October smell was always in the air. Smell is powerful because it can take you right back in time. When I went outside last night at my parents’ house, one sniff of the night air and all those memories came back to life!

– My gratitude journal. It helps me capture wonderful moments that would otherwise eventually slip away and be forgotten.

– Yesterday’s slow pace; I visited my parents, but felt very sick and didn’t want to do much of anything. We all ended up at the bottom of the yard, basking in the sun on the lawn, doing absolutely nothing for quite a while. Just being rather than doing. Talking…not talking…guessing the length of a particularly long piece of grass. I guessed sixteen inches; seventeen, my dad said, ever the architect. Later when we finally drifted back inside, the grass got measured. Dad won — it was sixteen and three quarters!

– A really neat live bat demonstration today that Hubby and I went to. We loved seeing their little bat faces…their little quivering hands…their little antics! Completely endearing. We love bats.


What blessings have you appreciated throughout your week? Leave a comment and let us know!


Free Shipping Through Monday, October 24th at Tropical Traditions!

It’s Free Shipping time at one of my very favorite companies, Tropical Traditions! Free shipping will save about $10-15 off your order, so it’s a good time to stock up, or try them out if you haven’t before. I really love this company’s products, and use them daily. Now through Midnight EDT on Monday October 24th, they’re offering free ground-only shipping when you enter coupon code 241011 at checkout.


Tropical Traditions has a wide range of high-quality products; here are my favorites:

Moisturizing lotion – I use this every day on my face and hands. It’s the most luxurious stuff, and very gentle since it has only a few wholesome ingredients. Definitely my all-time favorite lotion.

Moisturizing cream – Much thicker than the lotion, this is another favorite. Also great for use on face and hands.

Virgin organic coconut oil – Great for cooking, eating, and also for skin! Has a much better taste than other unrefined coconut oils I’ve tried. I just love this stuff.

Organic raw honey – This is the best-tasting honey I’ve ever had. I like to buy and taste lots of different honeys, and this one always wins, hands down. When I first tried it, my eyes got big and my mouth dropped open; it just has the most amazing taste! Quintessential, flowery honey taste. This stuff is a staple in our house!

Coconut cream concentrate – I love this stuff. LOVE it. The “format” is a little strange, because when you receive it,  it will have settled out into a hardened layer of coconut oil and a layer of dried/finely ground coconut meat. You’ll wonder what to do with it at first; what I do is put the jar into a pan of simmering water and let it sit there until the contents have softened and liquefied, and then I can easily stir it up. Then, I put it in the fridge until it’s hardened again. Once hardened, you can then store it in the fridge or at room temperature (it won’t separate again unless it gets really hot in your house). I usually just eat this stuff plain, it’s so good; I break it into chunks with a knife, and eat it as a snack. Sometimes I’ll eat it dipped in the raw honey, which is a very decadent and extremely delicious snack!!!

Laundry Detergent – This detergent is all we use, now that I’ve discovered it. It works very well, gets the stains out, and lasts a long time, making this a very economical purchase.

Oxygen Bleach – Like OxyClean. If you need a tough stain-fighter/deodorizer for laundry and everywhere else around the house.


Now, I’ve also tried their organic bar soap, and though it was really nice soap, Hubby and I have never seen a bar of soap get used up so fast! It was weird. It just seemed like it was gone in record time. So I wouldn’t get it again. (Though my mom has the liquid soap and really loves it.) I haven’t tried every single product that they sell…but the ones I listed above, I make sure to never run out of!

Also, I bought the Atchara once out of curiosity, and it was extremely strong (even for this vinegar lover!), and a little weird. Not quite a favorite.


And if you’re a new customer and have never bought from them before, you can also get this Virgin Coconut Oil book, with information  & recipes, for free (any time, not just today) by entering my User ID, which is 6032410. When you’re going through the checkout process and you’ve added your shipping address and phone number, you will see the question “How did you hear of us?” Just choose “Referred by a friend” and then a new “User ID” field will appear below that where you can enter my User ID. (See screen shot below.)


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